Small Business Savvy: The Case for Mentoring in the Workplace

Small Business Savvy: The Case for Mentoring in the Workplace

Mentoring—it’s a word we hear in business advice columns everywhere, but what does it truly mean for your growing company? In short, mentoring programs give your company the ability to cultivate its next generation of leaders from within. It’s exciting to think that you might have just hired your next high-performing sales leader, or even your next CEO.

But the stages between on-boarding and success are many. How can your company tap into the power of mentoring programs and build a culture dedicated to success?

To get answers, we sat down with Nic Chambers, Vice President of Chronus Corporation. His firms dedicated to helping companies just like yours implement and track successful mentoring programs from onset to duration through savvy software solutions. Let’s see what knowledge you can glean from his insights on what makes for successful mentoring programs in the workplace and how you can stay smart over the years your program is in place.

What are the two biggest challenges you see with growing businesses that could be eased by adding a mentoring program?

The two biggest challenges we see are performance and retention. Growing businesses depend on every team member to be engaged and performing their job well. It is also vital to retain these employees as turnover and new hire costs can significantly dent a company in rapid growth stages. Both of these challenges can be eased with a mentoring program. Pairing up junior employees with senior employees leverages existing resources to ensure better job performance and retention—all while cost-effectively growing the future leadership chain from within.

What prevents companies from implementing mentoring programs?

We commonly see three barriers to starting a mentoring program: assigning internal resources to manage the program, lack of knowledge about how to run a program, and leadership not understanding the goals and outcomes. All of these can be easily overcome with a bit of research, focus, and technology.

What are some of the most powerful statistics you could share with a growing business about the power of mentoring in the workplace?

Here’s the data we find to be the most compelling to our clients seeking to launch and grow mentoring programs in their companies:

USGS Human Capital Services and Support shared a powerful white paper on the power of mentoring. Herein, 77 percent of all companies surveyed state that mentoring is an effective tool to increase the retention of valued employees. As well, the loss of key employees is costly. The white paper notes that the loss of a single professional employee can cost a company between $50,000 and $100,000. Losing key talent often costs significantly more, since these employees contribute a disproportionate amount of the organization’s intellectual capital.

A Sun Microsystems study cited in Forbes on mentoring found that mentors were promoted six times more often than those not in the program, while mentees were promoted five times more often than those not in the program.

When businesses are exploring mentoring programs, would you recommend they build their own, outsource, a combination of the two, and why?

Chronus recommends a combination of the two. Organizations need to conceive a program with their own goals and objectives in mind. Once that is set, then outsourcing can be a smart strategy for the upfront program design consulting plus the implementation of the program. Look for software vendors with program expertise, built-in mentoring workflows, program measurement tools, participant feedback tools, and a flexible architecture that can be configured to your exact program. Outsourcing can be a way to bring your idea to fruition with an excellent ROI, quickly.

What kind of feedback process is necessary to build a successful ongoing mentoring program?

Feedback is vital to measure and improve a mentoring program. Make sure you gather it on two levels: the program level and the participant level. At the program level, measure mentoring connection rates and program completion rates. This will help you diagnose any program-level issues. Then, survey your participants both during and after the program. Quick surveys will help you fine tune as you progress, rather than waiting until the end. Finally, you can use all of this data to calculate the value and ROI of your program and share it with program stakeholders.’

How can businesses implementing mentoring programs position programs as a reward instead of a burden to both new and existing employees?

Businesses that implement mentoring programs are actually promoting a learning culture. We suggest businesses celebrate this culture by recognizing those who partake in corporate learning programs including mentoring. Businesses can share data with employees such as personal growth stories of mentors/mentees, enthusiastic participant feedback quotes, and mentorship learnings. Recognition tokens such as plaques or gift certificates are always good motivators. Holding up these individuals as valued team members and future leaders is good motivation for everyone throughout the organization.

For businesses interested in learning more about the benefits of mentoring in the workplace, dive into Chronus’ completely free guide on the subject. Here, you can learn more about five areas they’ve identified as being significantly impacted my workplace mentoring programs: employee career development, high potential development, diversity training, reverse mentoring, and knowledge transfer.

Erika Napoletano

About the Author

@ErikaNapo

When you want your audience to listen, you have to give them a reason. Erika’s been finding and writing those reasons since 2007.

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